A Caravan Rolls through Toronto

A Caravan Rolls through Toronto

The first thing I would like to do is give a big shout out to Vesuvius Music and the Old Mill for putting together this very unique experience. The concept is to showcase as much talent in the shortest period of time. It felt like speed dating for Jazz fans. It is your journey to see your favourite bands or a chance to seek out new sounds for your soul. There were 24 bands playing in 12 different rooms over a four hour period.

As Blast Toronto, my mission was to seek out as much talent in my allotted time slots. I got there and began planning how I was going to run from room to room and do a write up for all of these talented musicians. This was my first Caravan and I thought I did really well, by seeing 18 acts. You will get my quick review on each of them soon.

As I got there, I ran into a single singer greeting us with his A Capella versions of some famous and quirky songs. By 7:30 the place was filling up like a swarm of vagrants in a soup kitchen. They were starved for some soothing sounds to fill their souls. They came to the right place, because once you made it inside, the social aspect took over and the place took on a energy of a butterfly conservatory. The scene looked relaxed and excited. Some stood around and had a drink with friends as they sauntered from room to room, while others looked like Bay Street Bulls charging from room to room trying to get the most bang for their buck.

The rooms went from tiny intimate gatherings were about 30 people could squeeze into, while other rooms held over one hundred patrons and still had some room to dance. The flavours of music had a huge range as well. You could hear Big Band sounds, Latin Jazz, Lounge Jazz, R&B, Blues, and contemporary Jazz. This was far better than going to the Mandarin on all you can eat crab leg night.

What I enjoyed about the social aspect of the evening was that the musicians were out socializing when they were not playing. That meant if you went to see your favourite act, there is a good chance you may have a chance to stop and talk to them. What a civilized way to enjoy an evening. The other reason I enjoyed the evening was the fashion. If you ever want to make your fashion statement this is the event, because everyone went into their tickle trunk and brought out some of their more fun outfits. I think next year I will add a fashion section to this article.

Now here are my quick reviews of the artist I saw, so take this with a grain of salt because I had to create a review based on my very first impressions. So here it goes:

  1. Danielle Bassells- With a quiet but powerful voice, she seems to dig up the style of the down south style that utters from the guts of a St James Infirmary gospel type song. The beauty of her sound comes from within, not sounding like a layer of cake.
  2. Swing Shift Big Band- They promised on their name. They kept things swinging; even Moon River had a little  swing energy to it. Basie’s Count swung just the way Count Basie would have liked it.
  3. Errol Fisher stood cool and collected with his pedestal of water and smoothed over the crowd with his silky and classy way. He raises the bar of how polished and steady you can present the blues.
  4. Sam Broverman- He kept things light hearted and connected with his audience the only way you can. He sang about wine and to never take it away. The crowd participation need not be prompted when they sang “Unhand that Bottle”. Good times…
  5. Taylor Abrahamse- She is both Comical and Cynical. She is outspoken, sassy and just wicked enough to keep everyone in a mischievous mood. With her sly smile you know she wants to cause a little trouble in the world of music.
  6. Jay Douglas- A man of gospel, a man of blues played the chapel, no less. His charm was felt within the hearts of everyone in the room. People filled the aisle just to get a photo of him, to be near him, and that audience was enraptured when he leapt off the Alter, into their affection.
  7. Barbra Lica- She seemed to be open and honest that she is nerdy girl with wonderful dreams. She brings a hopeful innocence to her audience. Let her dare to dream because it will take you to a place of interesting perspectives.
  8. John Amato- A young man with a baby face and a deep silky voice singing “Making Whoopee” seemed like a good choice to please his audience. Add a few stage moves to this guy and he will last a long time in this business, because he will age well with that face and voice.
  9. Irene Torres- This tiny ball of energy brings out the restless spirit you have brewing within. Her playfulness and sensual vitality can keep the audience entranced all night long. These are the embers Toronto needs to see more often, to keep the fire inside our musical culture.
  10. Victoria Yeh- Violinist Extraordinaire…  She can pull sounds out of the Ether and bring you into a new age journey. At one point I felt as if I was floating over the cliffs of the Highlands. I guess deep down she was showing us her Braveheart.
  11. The Blackburn Brothers- With a packed Humber room, I squeezed my way to the front to watch them set the room on fire with their stellar R&B performance. This is a band that Toronto should raise higher, because these guys know how to take care of business.
  12. Gigi Marentette- With a powerful red and black dress this woman walked in like Liza Minnelli ready to possess your time. She is a person that commands your attention, with her bad girl swagger and just a hint of Burlesque to keep you fixated, she is a foreign movie you have been waiting to see for a long time.
  13. Ale Nunez, she is soft and sweet, and her entire attitude is simply to gladden your earnestness into a place of comfort and joy. If you need to chill out with a drink and a smile, walk beside her in song.
  14. Adam James- This was a new one for me. Here is this glitter monster that wants to christen and glisten each and every member of his lounge lizard audience. If he had a movie, it would be named Fear and Loathing at the Holiday Inn.
  15. Sammy Jackson- I would have like to have stayed longer, but my initial reaction was this artist was channeling a metaphysical realm and digging deep to find the meaning of something further.  Maybe it is a truth you have never encountered before. Her youth has the vibe of a musical anthropologist.
  16. Tony Quarrington and Zoey Adams- Unfortunately I only saw them for like two minutes, but in those two minutes, I thought they were a super cute duo and their song had an innocence that had timeless charm.
  17. Danae Olano- She is a joyful pianist that started off with a very chilled and cool band. With her youthful exuberance, you can see she is excited every time she has a chance to perform. Luckily, I was able to catch a rare moment when she introduced her younger sister up to play violin as a proud mother sat in the front row. What happened next was nothing less than spectacular. This epic piece of music was born in front of us and no one moved until the final note was played.
  18. Queen Pepper- What can I say, except that she made me miss two other performances to finish off the evening. This woman’s energy and dance moves can crush the energizer bunny in a heartbeat. I was sweating watching her. Well the room got all sweaty as well, because she finished off the evening with high energy music that had people dancing everywhere. Check out my Instagram page. I would go on, but I think I will save that review when I see a full show by this Mistress of Mayhem.

Here are the images of the artists:

I hope this helps you readers decide that next year you should attend Caravan. It is brought to you by Toronto’s favourite son Jaymz Bee and Vesuvius Music. The evening continued for the participants because there was an after party and we were all entertained by the legendary Shuffle Demons who had us dancing the rest of the night and then sent us home on the Spadina bus.

Stay in touch with Vesuvius Music to sign up for more events. Just click this link


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